In Case You Missed It: Refunct

By Mark Delaney, 5 months ago
I'm turning myself in. At the start of the year, I promised myself that I'd write an ICYMI story once per month. After just a few months, I fell off that pace, though for good reason. I just couldn't find any games I felt were worth covering. For those that don't know, we consider a game ICYMI-eligible when it is all of the above: unplayed by a vast majority of our community, not officially reviewed on site, and at least a year old. I had a very hard time finding games that fit all three parameters for the past half-year or so, which meant these features disappeared. Finally, a game I adored is now old enough to qualify, and to my surprise, a mere 11,000 of you have played it. Refunct is a game that is as simple as its achievement list, but it's one I find oddly charming and better than you may think.


The Basics

Refunct is a first-person platformer that is built to only take you a few hours at most before you've seen all it has to offer. Think of it as a highly simplified Mirror's Edge, but without the dystopian surveillance state setting. Instead, Refunct just takes place in the middle of what appears to be an ocean. The game's premise is never really explained. There's no story to go by. Instead, you're tasked with parkouring your way around a maze of pillars and walls that are often shifting around you though never change from one try to the next. It's meant to be a game you learn to master, and as it's the tenet of true parkour, you're meant to do it as quickly and stylishly as possible too.

The Hook

It's hard to fit Refunct into this standardized ICYMI article structure. It feels like for many there won't be a hook even if I do my best to sell you on it. Like I said, it's not a complicated game. You can beat it in about an hour if you get the flow of its platforming down easily enough.

My friend and colleague, Sam, said it's a dime-a-dozen type of game over on Steam. That may be, but I don't play PC games so Refunct is new to me. Even if there are other games like it, I think the best part of Refunct isn't how the platforming feels so strong or how it has a quick rinse achievement list. It does possess both of those things, but what I like best about it is its lax and strangely even loving aesthetic. The game's simple color palette starts off mostly void of any hues. Then, as you jump around the pillars and walls, you imbue each one with a soft color that changes per playthrough. Hit all the checkpoints in the unchanging level and you're done. You've beaten it.

There are other objectives, like collecting all cubes on the map, and eventually, you'll want to beat the level extremely quickly, too. But despite this emphasis on speed and efficiency, I found the game oddly relaxing when I played it last year. The parkour is so reliable that you can easily enter a flow state where everything is clicking and you're nailing your run. Failure is a quick restart away and it's a lot of fun working out the best possible route around the labyrinthine skyscrapers.

If you get any enjoyment out of the platforming in games like Dying Light or the aforementioned Mirror's Edge, Refunct is like those distilled down to their essential elements. It's an indie and a very brief one at that, but it has a certain flavor to it that I just adore and I hope some of you reading will back me up on this.


The Achievements

The achievement list is short and sweet but not all of them will come so easily. The vast majority of its ten possible unlocks will come within a few tries at the game's singular level while the last few achievements demand you perfect your parkouring skills to earn the completion. Eary runs in the game will have you clearing it somewhere around the 10-20 minute mark, but with practice, you'll eventually get your time down to under eight minutes, which earns you one of the last achievements. The most challenging but also most enjoyable achievement is to do it all in just four minutes. I recall my eventual best time had me complete it with just fractions of a second to spare. It was exciting and felt really earned. It was like speed-learning a skill, to cut my time down so much over the course of about 90 minutes of playtime.

Refunct is definitely a game that is made better by its achievements. For many games, the list is simply there, tacked on as a metagame for us to chase and that's fun too, no doubt. But for a game so brief but fun as Refunct is, a lot of credit must go to its list which really dares you to perfect every step. The names of the achievements add to its charm too. Phrases like "Do You Do What You Love?" and "Can We Be Friends?" provide an unexpected push for positivity to the player which goes nicely with its laid-back soundtrack.

The Stats

Maybe it's those final few achievements that have scared many off, but to my surprise only 11,530 players on TA have started Refunct. Typically, easy gamerscore games skyrocket up our most-played charts for obvious reasons, but those final few objectives for Refunct are perhaps too intimidating. Better yet, I'm hoping a whole bunch of you just missed it when it came out in June of last year, and if that's the case — ta-da! That's why this story exists.

At the time of writing, just 43% of players have completed the whole list, but most who have played have earned at least six of the achievements. It didn't seem to get reviewed anywhere, though it holds a 3.2 out of 5 on TA from user ratings.


The Price

The price of Refunct is yet another strength for the game as it lists for just $2.99. It's been on sale three times since it released 13 months ago, most recently at the start of July. For those that want to wait for a sale, it seems likely one will arrive within a few months. Cheaper than a cup of coffee as it is, though, it may be worth it for some of you to just jump on it now anyway.

The Verdict

I'm sure many people who haven't played Refunct will read this and wonder why I speak so highly of a game so simplistic and short. But I think the value of Refunct really must be seen firsthand. It has a calming way about it, even as you scramble to achieve a finish time in under four blazing minutes. Its gentle color scheme, soothing musical score, and reliable, flow state-inducing platforming makes for a memorable game even if it's all over within an hour for its most skilled players.

I have a habit of beating a game and then quickly removing it from my hard drive if it's not one I'll go back to regularly. Refunct reads like such a game, and I admit I originally bought it just for the quick and easy 1,000 gamerscore, but nearly a year after I played it, it remains installed on my Xbox One. It's a game I enjoy periodically jumping back into, when I have only a few minutes or when I just want to relax with something familiar. You wouldn't expect that from a game pushing you to speed around a mess of towers as quickly and as error-free as you can, but somehow it's how I look back on Refunct.

Download from Microsoft Store

Do you know of a game that should be featured in our In Case You Missed It column? Put it in the comments or send me a message! Remember, to qualify, games must be at least one year old, have fewer than roughly 30,000 players on site, and not have received an official site review.

Check out our Best Xbox Platformer Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.